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How to Sell a House from Out of State: Long-Distance Guide
A skilled real estate agent can guide you through selling a house from out of state, providing an elevated level of service. An agent serves as “the eyes and the boots on the ground for anything that might come up through the marketing and selling process,.”
Another option is to work with a company that buys houses for cash in the area. While you will likely receive a lower offer than if you listed, you also eliminate home preparations and repeated showings that can be difficult to arrange from afar.
Whether you inherited a home on the opposite coast or are finally selling a pre-pandemic condo that’s too small to support working remotely, selling a house from out of state will eventually be freeing and hopefully a blessing to your bank account.
Let’s take a close look at the process to sell a house from out of state and your options for selling long distance.
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Reasons people have to sell from out of state
Overall, 13% of people who recently purchased or sold a home moved to a different state from their previous residence, according to 123SoldCash’s 2021 Buyer and Seller Insights Survey. Let’s look at typical situations where people live in another state from the home they need to sell.
Top Florida real estate agent says corporate relocation is one of the more common reasons for an out-of-state sale. In 2021, 32.5% of movers relocated for work or because of a job transfer. For those employees that still need to be tied to one location, your company or work may ask you to relocate, often with little notice. That’s especially common among members of the military. So if you only have time to pack up and move, you’re likely left to sell your home once you’re settled.
Since the pandemic began, telework has become increasingly popular, allowing many people to pack up and leave their homes. And it’s likely to continue. According to the Pew Research Center, 60% of those with remote-eligible jobs still want to work from home after the pandemic ends. That means more and more people might prefer to make their move permanent and sell their old properties from afar.
Sometimes these are classified as REOs, or real estate-owned properties, because a bank, government agency, or other lender now owns them. As of January 2022, there were just over 23,000 homes with foreclosure filings, the most since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the national property data warehouse ATTOM Data Solutions.
Sometimes a property has to go through probate to be sold. The term probate refers to the legal process through which the loved one’s will is reviewed, and a representative or executor is appointed to administer the will and distribute any assets — or, in some instances, to make arrangements and disbursements and distributions from the estate in the absence of choice. Probate recognizes whether a will is valid and appoints an executor or personal representative to administer the estate and distribute assets, including any real estate assets. You don’t have to live near the deceased to be named an executor or estate representative.
Individual investors own roughly 72.5% of the single-unit rental housing market. An investor may want to divest this property completely or roll the profit into another investment. In this case, an owner may never have been to the home, or it’s been a while since they’ve seen it, Adams says. “There’s less familiarity with the property and more of an opportunity for the real estate agent to step in and bring extra value to that relationship.”
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Amidst a process spanning several months, certain sellers might encounter challenges when it comes to listing and handling a property from afar. While you’re aiming to excel in a fresh job or create delightful family dinners, you’re simultaneously juggling responses to texts and phone calls from the stager. On top of that, you’re giving the green light to various details for a home that might seem like it’s situated on an entirely different planet.
To mitigate the common troubles linked to remotely selling a house, it’s worth considering the option of requesting an offer from a company specialized in buying homes within the vicinity. Nowadays, engaging with such a house-buying enterprise can largely be carried out online, and there’s an array of companies available for you to choose from.
Here’s how selling your house for cash typically works:
Stage 1 — Choice: Imagine a homeowner, maybe someone selling their home from a different state, who makes the decision not to list their house conventionally. Instead, they want to find a way to sell it off the usual market.
Stage 2 — Reaching Out: The homeowner gets in touch with a company specializing in buying houses in their area. They share some basic details about their property. It’s worth noting that sometimes these companies may even initiate contact with potential sellers.
Stage 3 — Initial Offer: At this point, certain house-buying companies might extend a preliminary offer, which could change later based on a thorough assessment of the house.
Stage 4 — Property Evaluation: The company arranges a visit to the property (sometimes even a virtual one) to assess its condition. This evaluation usually takes place within a day or two.
Stage 5 — Firm Proposal: The company presents a solid offer (usually within a day, and sometimes right after the property evaluation), which the homeowner can either accept or reject. It’s important to know that most of these companies won’t negotiate on the offer’s price. It’s a “take it or leave it” scenario.
Stage 6 — Finalizing the Deal: If the homeowner agrees to the offer, both parties sign a contract to initiate the closing process. Some companies might offer a substantial deposit, and a few might even pay for the house upfront.
Stage 7 — Swift Payment: The seller receives payment quite promptly, usually within a week or a couple of weeks. The timing can vary depending on the company. Sellers working with a house-buying company often have the flexibility to choose a move-out date that suits them.
Even when dealing with a cash offer, arrangements need to be made to clear out the house. Some companies might go the extra mile by allowing sellers to take their desired belongings from the property and leave the rest behind.
I’m out of state. Is it worth selling to a cash buyer?
While selling to a We Buy Houses company offers several conveniences, house-buying businesses typically pay less than market value for the homes they purchase, and sometimes significantly so.
These companies have an additional benefit—they can expedite the closing process in a flexible manner. They might even cut down or remove the necessity for repairs. What’s more, in numerous instances, they could take care of all the closing costs on the seller’s behalf. It boils down to assessing the pros and cons and figuring out what aligns best with your circumstances.
If you’re intrigued by this possibility and want to delve deeper, you might want to consider exploring 123SoldCash’s Simple Sale platform. This platform offers all-cash deals for homes in various conditions across the nation. Sellers just need to provide details about their home and the timeline for selling on our website. No need for staging. No repeated rounds of showings. No need for open houses.
In as little as 48 hours, you could have a no-obligation cash offer in your email inbox with the ability to close in as few as ten days. By contrast, closings involving a mortgage take an average of 52 days as of March 2022.
But my out-of-state property is in great condition!
If a speedy and hassle-free method to sell your house is on your radar, delving into the iBuyer realm might pique your interest. These entities harness advanced algorithms to churn out nearly instant offers, all packaged within a user-friendly, mostly online home-selling journey. They usually set their sights on houses in good shape and propose figures close to the market worth, frequently landing around 90% or even more, especially when the real estate scene is sizzling. Nonetheless, should you lean towards the tried-and-true, the conventional listing route might be the puzzle piece that fits your picture.
What real estate agents do when a seller is out of state
You might not be all that keen on embracing a cash offer or you might still be teetering on the edge of a decision. It could be that your foremost concern revolves around squeezing out the utmost value from the proposition. So, let’s take a gander at another route you could venture down while navigating the process of selling a home from a different state: enlisting the services of a top-tier real estate agent to orchestrate the deal and lighten your load. Having a skilled real estate agent who’s well-versed in handling sales involving out-of-state homeowners can alleviate your frets about whether you need to be physically present for each phase. This would spare you from the whirlwind of countless back-and-forth trips, cutting down on travel costs in the process.
1. Secure the property
The agent might call a locksmith to change locks and prevent unauthorized entry. Neighbors or acquaintances might have keys. Also, two lockboxes can be set up: one tracks entries during showings, and another with a code is for contractors or homeowners visiting without agent’s help.
2. Document the property’s condition
Your agent can snap photos of the house even before listing. These pictures include street views, roof, landscape, major appliances, and each room from different angles. It helps spot value factors or urgent repairs. For probate sales, the images are crucial for court reports by probate attorneys.
3. Assist with hiring contractors
An agent’s got the inside scoop for managing basic to-dos like getting utilities running in an empty place. They’ve got the contacts for experts who can fix things up and maintain that spiffy look, such as cleaners and pool pros. Need some help deciding? You could lean on the agent’s suggestions, or you could ask them to collect bids from three different folks. That way, you pick the one that suits you best.
4. Keep tabs on the property
Having a nearby agent can offer a reassuring watch over your home. Once, she stumbled upon a burst water heater from earlier in the day. “I took care of the cleanup and shut it down. Without my visit, mold could have spread everywhere,” she reflects.
5. Price the property, respecting your budget and time frame
Adams takes a clever approach for out-of-state owners, presenting two valuation ranges: one as-is and another with renovations to match the local market. He even calculates potential upgrade costs. “When time isn’t pressing, I prefer starting with a higher price and adjusting gradually,” he mentions. “Avoiding doubts about pricing too low on the first day is key.” Each price cut maintains the property’s prime spot on the MLS, ensuring it’s noticed and generates traffic due to MLS dynamics.
6. Manage marketing
Not just the MLS, your nearby agent manages showings and promotions. Think social media, online ads, and open houses. Want to engage in open house talks but can’t travel? Your agent might set up a “virtual open house” with live-streamed tours. Platforms like Facebook Live or Instagram work, and these videos can be shared on YouTube later.
7. Set up a 3D or virtual tour
According to the National Association of Realtors®, 51% of buyers found their home through the Internet. And to make your home stick out today, you need more than just a good listing and great photos. Your agent should be able to set up a 3D or virtual tour that opens up your property to a larger market. It may also help your property sell faster, especially if a buyer can’t attend an in-person showing. According to the NAR, 58% of buyers believe virtual tours are beneficial. After all, just like you’re selling from out of state, some buyers may be buying from out of state.
8. Apprise you of property taxes
Real estate taxes differ across states, in both the amount and the timing of payment. If you’re used to around $3,000 in local taxes, brace yourself: taxes on that out-of-state house you’ve sold could hit $12,000, due when closing the deal. Your agent can give you an early peek into the sales taxes and their payment schedule. (And don’t forget to chat with your accountant.)
9. Keep your timeline intact
In any real estate deal, different problems could mess up your schedule. But in today’s times, with pandemic worries and supply chain hiccups, more troubles can arise. Your agent steps in as your champion, making sure your repairs stay on track and your sale keeps moving forward as planned. Being distant from your property might mean you’re less flexible than if you were there in person. Don’t worry, your agent’s got your back on that front.
10. Close the deal
Your choice and location affect how you sign the closing papers. Your agent can team up with you to figure out the best approach. Some title companies can serve as a notary and send you documents to sign via email. You can get them notarized on your end and send them back electronically or through overnight delivery.
Your agent can also coordinate a remote closing if your state permits it. All signatures can be completed electronically, such as through DocuSign or a web portal, and you can attend the closing via phone or webcam if needed.
Other tips for selling your house from out of state
Now that you know how an agent can help your out-of-state sale let’s look at what else you should have in your mind as you complete your transaction.
Look into remote notarization
Historically, one of the biggest obstacles to selling a house from out of state has been that certain documents must be notarized in person as part of the sale.
Notarization prevents fraud and formally certifies a document’s authenticity. Sellers may be asked to sign the affidavit of title and other documentation in the presence of witnesses and a notary.
To the benefit of people selling a house long distance, the pandemic accelerated remote online notarization (RON), which allows for notarizations to be completed virtually.
As of this writing, 40 states have authorized remote notarization, and it’s anticipated that digital closings could become legal nationwide before 2022 wraps.
While the RON process will vary state by state and software by software, sellers can expect to see some or all of the following protocols come up during the remote notarization process:
- You’ll meet via webcam.
- You may need to use a specific remote notarization platform.
- You’ll be asked to provide key identifying information about yourself.
- You’ll need to send in physical documents or upload them digitally.
The National Notary Association (NNA) is tracking frequent changes to RON legislation across states — and you can see where your state currently stands by viewing NNA’s map. Sellers should also consult with their agents to see if RON is an option in their market.
Gather a strong team
Your real estate agent becomes your main ally throughout your transaction. But for a smooth sale, consider building a team of experts, including:
- Handyperson: While not for major renovations, having someone to fix small issues like light fixtures, wall holes, or a broken door handle can create a great impression of a well-maintained home.
- Landscaper: Curb appeal matters. A well-maintained exterior can make buyers willing to pay up to 7% more. A landscaper can mow the lawn, remove weeds, and ensure a welcoming entry.
- Home inspector: Optional but valuable, a pre-sale inspection by a home inspector can uncover issues early, allowing you to make repairs before the pressure of a contract.
- Real estate attorney: Some states require an attorney’s involvement, and some sellers hire one to ensure legal matters are handled properly.
- Accountant: Keep your tax advisor in the loop about your selling plans in case of tax implications.
If you’re uncertain about who to hire, your real estate agent can provide trustworthy recommendations.
Disclose what’s required for the location where the property is located
Each state has its own regulations regarding what sellers need to reveal to buyers during a sale. Typically, sellers are required to inform buyers about any known problems that could affect the safety, condition, or value of the home. This might include past flooding, storm damage, or a previous fire. However, if you haven’t lived in the home and aren’t familiar with its history, disclosure expectations could be different. To make sure you’re on the right track, consult your real estate agent and, if needed, a licensed attorney. They can help you complete the proper forms and provide accurate disclosures to the best of your knowledge.
How to find a real estate agent who can help
When it comes to selling a house from a different state, finding the right real estate agent is incredibly important. With 123SoldCash, you can effortlessly connect with skilled local agents who are well-suited for the task. Our process involves evaluating more than 27 million transactions and sifting through thousands of reviews to identify the best matches for your needs. You’ll receive a curated list of around two to three potential agents right in your email inbox.
Once you receive your agent recommendations, you can interview your real estate agent matches to determine who you want to hire. When selling out of state, you might inquire:
- Have you ever worked with out-of-state sellers?
- What’s your experience with selling REO property? Probate property? Investment property?
- What value or services can you bring to help me stay abreast of what’s happening at the property from afar?
- What tools do you use to communicate with out-of-town sellers?
- What steps do you take to attract an offer as quickly as possible?
Although selling a house long-distance might be unusual for you, a seasoned real estate agent likely has done this before and can be a valuable resource.
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~ Daniel Jackson Fort Lauderdale, FL
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